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Coaching with NLP For Dummies® by Kate Burton

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Reframing the Situation

You may have heard the famous tale told in NLP circles about the therapist Milton Erickson meeting a patient in a mental institution who was under the delusion that he (the patient) was Jesus Christ. Erickson is reputed to have said to the patient that it was good to find a carpenter and set him to work on fixing the building.

image In this interaction, Erickson shifted to the as-if frame, behaving as if the client's perception were true. Doing so actually supported the patient's return to health. In the context of the institution, the client is mad; in the context of the client's own beliefs, he is a carpenter called Jesus.

NLP suggests that the meaning of any interaction is dependent on the context, so by changing the context you can change the meaning. Think about it: in one political system, a person may be considered a hero for killing someone else, while in another system he's punished as a villain. In one organisation certain behaviours are expected, in another they are frowned upon. One person complains about having a painful leg, while another is delighted to have legs to swing out of bed in the morning.

This idea of reframing involves putting a different frame or context around what you're working with in order to change the way you think and experience a situation. The following sections cover the key aspects of reframing that you can utilise with ...

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